Friday, March 21, 2014
HIGH SALT CONSUMPTION SPEEDS UP AGING IN OVERWEIGHT AND OBESE TEENAGERS
The new research was presented at the American Heart Association's EPI/NPAM Scientific Sessions 2014.
"Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular aging process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease," lead researcher Haidong Zhu, assistant professor of pediatrics at Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, GA., said in a statement.
For the study, researchers divided nearly 800 teens between the ages of 14 and 18 into two groups based on their salt intake. The high-intake group consumed an average of more than 4,100 milligrams of salt a day, while those in the low-intake group consumed an average of less than 2,400 milligrams a day. Participants in both groups consumed more than the 1,500 milligrams per day maximum recommended by the American Heart Association, HealthDay reported.
The study examined the effect of a high salt diet on the length of telomeres - the protective ends on chromosomes - in normal weight and overweight and obese teens. Telomeres naturally shorten with age, but this process could be accelerated by smoking, physical inactivity and high levels of body fat.
Researchers observed that the telomeres were much shorter in overweight and obese teens with high salt intake, but not in normal-weight teens with high salt intake.
"It is well known that a high salt diet is an important risk factor for hypertension and cardiovascular disease, but the impact of a high salt diet on cardiovascular aging has not been well understood," Zhu told MedPage Today.
She said reducing salt intake may be easier than losing weight for people who want to lower their risk of developing heart disease and other diseases associated with being overweight or obese.
Although researchers found a link between eating salty foods and faster cellular aging, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the two, Healthday reported.
"This is early research, and it needs to be replicated. But it does suggest that high sodium intake impacts the telomere shortening process," Zhu said.